Business Investment

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 11:33 am on 7th June 2022.

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Photo of Ben Spencer Ben Spencer Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge 11:33 am, 7th June 2022

What recent progress his Department has made on securing business investment in the UK.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

In recent months, the UK has had a strong track record of attracting inward investment, including in cars—in Nissan, Stellantis and Ford —and in batteries, through Envision AESC; and Airbus announced a further ramping up of its A320 line in Broughton a few weeks ago. In April, the Department launched the new global Britain investment fund, which will build on our track record and encourage internationally mobile companies to invest in the UK.

Photo of Ben Spencer Ben Spencer Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge

I thank the Minister for his response. I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the register of interests, my chairmanship of the all-party parliamentary group on Finland, and my vice-chairmanship of the all-party parliamentary group on Sweden. Our relationship with Finland and Sweden has never been stronger; there is the mutual defence treaty, our support for their application for NATO, and the recent Sweden-UK life science agreement. Does my hon. Friend agree that Runnymede and Weybridge, with its connectivity, academic institutions and strong tech and life science sector, is a fantastic place to build on that investment and that relationship, and to bring in further investment from northern Europe?

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that his constituency has a very important role to play in the future of life sciences, and I commend his work on that strategically important sector. He mentioned the life sciences memorandum of understanding that we signed with Sweden last week. Our relationship with Sweden goes back more than three centuries and is worth £20 billion, and there are 100 Swedish life science companies in the UK. That is another example of close working across the globe on progress for everyone’s benefit.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The Centre for Policy Studies is not alone in having just published damning research from business leaders. It states that Britain is becoming a less attractive place to invest; the UK is slipping behind other countries because of red tape, rising taxes and ministerial complacency. Could it be because we have a chaotic, rudderless, high-tax Conservative Government, with no industrial strategy and no plan for growth? Is it not time that the Secretary of State listened to businesses, tackled rising business costs and backed calls to spike the national insurance hike? He should know that it is the wrong tax at the wrong time.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

That is a curious line of questioning from the Opposition Front-Bench team, given that Nissan has made £1 billion of investment in recent months in Sunderland, Stellantis has made an investment of more than £100 million in Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port, and there is additional investment in green technology and life sciences—the list goes on and on. Of course there is more to do, and of course as a listening Government we will always look at what more we can do to make us the most attractive place to invest in the G7 and across the world. We have a good track record that we will continue to build on.